Premiering at SXSW, director Jamie Meltzer’s short film Not Even for a Moment Do Things Stand Still is a very impactful piece of work. Sometimes films are bigger than the person or people who make them. This is one of those instances. It hits deeply this one, this illustration of the work of art by Suzanne Firstenberg which pays homage to all the American lives lost during the ongoing pandemic. I mean, even one of the last images is white words on a black screen which says that since the time of the filming of the intimate 15 minute short that thousands of flags had been added to the installation. Think about that for a moment. Thousands more lives lost and families affected. Very poignant as the U.S. is coming up on an amazing/tragic/heartbreaking 1 million deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are times when things are done that are so simple yet so beautiful that it takes your breath away. The idea behind Suzanne Firstenberg’s art installation on Washington D.C.’s National Mall is not a complex one, yet I am sure seeing it is like a punch in the gut. Haunting. For those who did not get to see it in person, this film gives people a chance to take it in and be moved by it. In some respects, the film brings the emotions even higher as Meltzer has filmed some of the families of those who died from COVID placing the white flags with words to their deceased loved ones written on them. The emotion here is palpable/tangible. So fresh you feel like you can reach out and touch it.
Watching it these loved ones’ pain becomes your pain as we all know that it could be (or might actually be) us who is feeling what they are. COVID has affected everyone. No one has been left unscathed. Even those of us who are still here.
Through the images of the vast expanse of white flags, each representing a person who died of COVID, you cannot help but be struck by the size of it. The scale has been and continues to be epic. We feel the mourning and remembrance that is going on at the site. We begin to understand that this tragedy is still unfurling itself. Still flapping in the wind like the flags.